Second-Year Student Assessment

For students entering their second year at four-year and two-year colleges and universities

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HomeEnrollment Management SolutionsStudent SuccessRNL Retention Management System™Second-Year Student Assessment

Find out how to curb the “sophomore slump” on your campus, or assess the needs of transfer students

Second-Year Student Assessment (SYSA)

Ensuring the persistence of second-year students and transfer students is a continuing challenge for two-year and four-year colleges and universities. To retain these students, you must meet their specific needs and keep them engaged.

The online, 68-item Second-Year Student Assessment carefully assesses the non-cognitive, motivational needs of second-year students, providing a wealth of data to guide student retention planning.

Learn how to use the SYSA to:

  • Identify which second-year students are at risk and receptive to assistance.
  • Create a strong transition from the first to second year of college.
  • Make retention strategies more effective and efficient by basing them on reliable student data.

The resulting SYSA data:

  • Identifies the specific needs of at-risk, second-year students and transfer students, including their level of engagement, commitment to college, and receptivity to assistance from advisors, academic support offices, career counselors, and other campus services.
  • Prioritizes sophomore and transfer student engagement strategies by equipping you to design or update campus services to match the interests and concerns of your cohorts.
  • Compares students’ receptivity to assistance in their second year vs. their use of campus services in the previous year.
  • Pinpoints the college completion plans of students: You learn which students expect to complete their degrees at your campus, transfer to another institution, or are unsure of their plans for the next term.
  • Determines which campus services students utilize the most

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Ready to improve your retention rates? Talk with our experts and see how you can improve student success with early alert assessments that measure non-cognitive indicators.

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University of Michigan-Flint

“The Second-Year Student Assessment allows us to efficiently and systematically assess our students' needs and to create individualized action plans for their continued success. We've learned that by year two, our second-year students as a whole overwhelmingly want a written academic plan, they want to understand how their grades will impact their future, and they are twice as likely to want tutorial help.”

Aimi Moss
Director, Academic Advising and Career Center, University of Michigan – Flint (MI)
Cardinal Stritch University

“We have increased first-to-second-year retention 9 percentage points since using the CSI and MYSA as part of our comprehensive retention efforts.”

Maria Von Arx
Retention Coordinator, Cardinal Stritch University (WI)
Heidelberg University

“The Second-Year Student Assessment (SYSA) has allowed us to identify the challenges facing our sophomore students and has provided us with information we can use to develop appropriate programs and resources for these students.”

Ellen Nagy
Director of Faculty Student Advising, Heidelberg University (OH)

Details regarding the SYSA

The survey is designed to be administered prior to, during, or immediately following the first term of the second year of college. Institutions may choose to administer the survey as early as the end of the freshman year. The instrument can also be used with third-year transfer students, near the beginning of their third year.

Students need approximately 20 minutes to complete the online Second-Year Student Assessment.

All of the information collected by the Second-Year Student Assessment is available to you immediately in our secure, password-protected online dashboard, the Retention Data Center. There you will see the resulting reports revealing student motivation, needs, interests, and satisfaction, and you will find a wealth of data to guide your retention planning. You will learn which students need the greatest assistance and which campus services are most in demand, allowing you to make informed interventions.

The assessment includes 27 motivation questions and tracks motivational data across seven scales:

  • Academic Confidence
  • Commitment to College
  • Engaged Learning
  • Leadership
  • Financial Security
  • Transition
  • Family Support

In addition, 13 items examine students’ satisfaction with their college experience, such as:

  • Interactions with instructors, academic advisors, and other students
  • Variety of majors, course availability, and academic challenge
  • Availability of opportunities and activities related to major and career interests

The survey also closely examines student receptivity to assistance, examining not only each student’s current receptivity in 15 areas, but also the student’s levels of participation in these 15 areas during the previous year of college, providing information to strengthen second-year and first-year programs.

To help you focus and prioritize your campus outreach to sophomores, the Second-Year Student Assessment includes the following, informative, built-in reports:

  • Summary and Planning Report: Offers a concise, summary picture of the needs of your sophomore class and/or transfer students to guide your retention planning. This cohort report summarizes all of the findings from the assessment, including motivation scales, receptivity, and institutional impression (satisfaction) items, and demographic items. The report identifies the usage of campus services and includes outreach lists with the names of specific students.
  • Student Report: Offers a clear, non-technical explanation of each individual student’s motivational assessment, including the student’s strengths and areas that might benefit from attention. The report details the student’s receptivity to assistance in five key areas, alongside your institution’s specific sources of assistance. The student’s self-reported needs and interests serve as an immediate action plan.
  • Advisor/Counselor Report: Provides a detailed, item-by-item breakdown of each student’s demographic information and motivational assessment, including strengths, needs, satisfaction, and receptivity to assistance.

The RMS Suite of surveys allow you to:

  • Add up to 5 additional demographic items for analysis
  • Secure access of reports to designated colleagues
  • Add custom questions to your survey
  • Customize narrative text that appears on the student report

You can create custom reports of your choosing using the dashboard’s robust tools. Also, you can customize the Student Report to include specific contact information (room numbers, phone numbers, etc.) to refer students to specific sources of assistance on your campus.

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